Jacques de Bascher: Who was Karl Lagerfeld’s former boyfriend and greatest love?
Jacques de Bascher was Karl Lagerfeld’s great love and muse for 18 years. Though de Bascher was known as a ‘bad boy’, Lagerfeld said they never had sex.
Jacques de Bascher was a notorious ‘bad boy’ who seduced worldly Parisians, including Karl Lagerfeld, who died on Tuesday (February 9) at age 85 and Saint Laurent.
De Bascher was the decadent character and fashion socialite who was Lagerfeld’s partner and lover for almost two decades before he died from AIDS-related complications.
“Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm.”
— Karl Lagerfeld
Indeed de Bascher was the very same man who also seduced Saint Laurent.
Libération journalist Marie Ottavi wrote a biography of de Bascher, noting the love between him and Lagerfeld.
She interviewed those who knew de Bascher. So, who was this former boyfriend of Lagerfeld?
Jacques de Bascher’s early years
The Frenchman was born in Saigon on July 8, 1951, to a small aristocratic family.
Even as a teenager, he had such charm that he seduced one of his high school teachers.
“He was perfect. He sparked incredible cases of jealousy.”
— Karl Lagerfeld
Both men and women found de Bascher irresistible. “When he realized that he had an upper hand over others,” explains the author, “he saw an opportunity, and knew that things would always work out for him thanks to his personality and beauty.”
He became known to waltz through life with his demeanour and charm.
As he grew older, he quickly became known among the elite. And, in the 1970s, he was immersed in fashion and gay culture.
Sex, drugs and fashion
It was not long before Jacques de Bascher’s life became an orgy of fashion, drugs, sex and parties.
He enjoyed having sex with both men and women, and he often spoke about his conquests in public.
He found the gay S&M scene alluring and was fascinated by submissive relationships and using sex for power.
“Jacques had many lovers,” says Philippe Heurtault, a photographer. “But I wonder if sex was more important than that. Conquest was the real purpose. The more something was out of reach, the more it excited him.”
What did Karl Lagerfeld say about his relationship with Jacques de Bascher?
Karl Lagerfeld quickly became infatuated with Jacques de Bascher when he was 19 and remained by his side, even during his scandalous affair with Yves Saint Laurent, until his last moments when he died of AIDS in 1989, aged 38.
However, despite de Bascher’s reputation, Lagerfeld claims the two had never slept together. They were merely companions.
Lagerfeld said: “I infinitely loved that boy but I had no physical contact with him. Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm.”
“He was the classiest Frenchman I’ve ever known.”
— Karl Lagerfeld
“I’m a total puritan, but I found Jacques’s adventures amusing,” he continued. “We couldn’t be further apart. I am a Calvinist toward myself, and totally indulgent toward others.”
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“He was the classiest Frenchman I’ve ever known,” Lagerfeld said. “Jacques de Bascher, when he was young, was a devil with Garbo’s face.
“He didn’t dress like anyone; he was ahead of everyone. He made me laugh more than anyone. He was the opposite of me. He was also impossible and despicable. He was perfect. He sparked incredible cases of jealousy.”
Jacques de Bascher did ‘nothing’ with his life, says Marie Ottavi
Author Ottavi said: “How do we go about telling the story of someone who left no traces, who did nothing with his life, who built nothing? It was an interesting challenge — first of all, because everyone told me that no one would speak to me about him, fearing the reactions of Karl Lagerfeld or Pierre Bergé, and secondly because it involved giving substance to a character that some believe had none.
“I remember someone telling me, ‘Why would you bother writing a book that will only be read by [approximately] 200 gays in Paris?’ That comment remained with me throughout the entire writing process. I told myself that I needed to write this book not to sell tons of copies, but to tell the story of this man. And to prove that his story holds interest for more people than one might think.”